Waiter told us the wrong price of a special, what should they have done?

Just throwing this out here because I’m curious to know what people think. We ate at a restaurant tonight, very popular spot that we’ve been to many times before. They put their specials on a big blackboard that you have to walk up and read since it’s not readable from most tables, but the server also told them to us. Prices were not on the board and the server did not mention the prices. When I asked the price of an item, I was told that it was $20. When we got the check, it was $23. I pointed it out to the server (after I had paid, because I did not notice it initially) she said, “yeah, they changed the price”, so she obviously had realized her mistake after telling us the price.

What was the correct thing for her to do in this situation?

  1. Apologize and offer to fix it for me
  2. Tell me after she found out that she had told me the wrong price (preferably when she initially entered the order), so I didn’t have to discover it myself
  3. (this is a trick answer) Nothing, because she would have realized her mistake and had someone change it to $20 before even giving me the check.
  4. What she did.

And obviously the real correct answer is to put the price on the blackboard and have the server state the prices. And no $3 isn’t a huge on a $100 meal, but it just seemed wrong to me. I didn’t do anything at the restaurant, but will mention it in my OpenTable review.

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Why didn’t you mention it at the restaurant? And then why wait to post it online after-the-fact when the restaurant really has no recourse at that time, to either rectify the situation or explain it?


Because I was getting ready to leave and wasn’t going to call a manager over $3, but I’m wondering what others would have done and feel the correct response should have been. It’s not like I’m writing that I noticed it after the fact, and complaining about it now. I told the server, she didn’t offer to correct it.

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It is a mistake, but I see it as a small mistake - given that $23 is not too different than $20.


To me, it’s the principle of the thing, and I feel the server should have remedied the situation on the spot, with cash from the register, a voucher for next time, or a dessert on the house to go. Granted, $3 is a paltry amount, but the mistake was on their end, and should have been rectified, once you brought it up. Just my opinion.


Sounds to me that you did the right thing. Price changes going up before everything else is adjusted is happening all over right now.

Give the server and the restaurant the benefit of the doubt–this time.


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I don’t think it was handled particularly well. Although $3 isn’t much comparatively, I think that if noted, the way to leave a customer feeling better about the exchange is to give them the lower price.
I also think it’s worth communicating with the management, not to make trouble for the server, but to recommend that they are aware of a potential problem with prices being miscommunicated. If that’s happening more broadly, and if it’s a thing that doesn’t even occasion an apology, it’s possible there could be a lot of people not inclined to return. A crappy feeling at the end can trump the deliciousness of a meal-- particularly when there are so many options, and when we’re all moving to exercising greater care in our choices with the ridiculous costs of living increases we face.


The price quoted should be honoured. Full stop.


What you did was fine, and probably what I would have done (because it’s $3). The server should have offered to adjust the check to reflect the price she quoted you.

Related: I was having dinner with my highest maintenance friend at a bbq restaurant in Manhattan. The drink menu was on a table tent, and my friend ordered an iced tea, priced at $1.50 (this was a while ago) on that menu. When the check came, her iced tea was $1.75. And she called the server over to point this out. He explained that the table tent showed the happy hour prices, or the day prices, or something, and shouldn’t have still been on the table. And she refused to pay the $1.75. Called the manager over and had him redo the check. Over a quarter. Because, ya know, principle.


Is her name Karen?


You would think. But no.

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Their lack of a printed price makes it really squishy.

If it were printed it’s absolutely black and white. Legally they must honor the printed price.

Because it was verbal, it becomes very grey…but they should have honored what she told you.

Would make me very mistrustful of them in the future…which is a very expensive $3 for them.


I think I sense, by the explanation, whether something is a genuine mistake or not. Such as my recent Spanish “wrong change” experience which I am sure was a “not”. Interestingly, the owner contacted me after my Tripadvisor review, also saying it was a mistake by the server. Interesting because he recounted the customers having a very different meal to us - maybe suggesting that there was also an attempt to shortchange another group as well as us.

I think it’s worth communicating with the management by email first, depending their answer, if not satisfactory, then go to OpenTable.

Not the same situation, but payment problem. We had tasting menu dinner in a restaurant, we paid without checking and then left. At home, when I wanted to do a write up in HO, I looked at the bill again, and discovered that they applied the price of their special valantine’s tasting menu price to our the day after normal day tasting menu. I contacted them by email, they apologized and refunded us quickly with the credit card used that night, and offered us 2 glasses of champagne next time in the restaurant. I think it was an honest mistake, but they had programmed it wrongly, it should happen to every client that evening, no idea if they would refund everybody though.

So in your case, they can refund you via credit card, if they are sincere about their mistake.


Me thinks she/the business has done this more than once before you noticed it. Seemed too casual about the price change.

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Eh, doubtful. Because if the server had told the OP the correct price, s/he probably would have ordered the dish anyway, since it’s a difference of just $3.

I’m frankly surprised at how many folks immediately suspect foul play over an honest mistake. When have we decided restaurants are only out to get us? Huh.


Since the difference was only $3 I wouldn’t have even mentioned to the server


I would ask the server to ask the manager if they can change the price on the bill to $20, if it bothered me a lot. I wouldn’t take it out of a tip, and I wouldn’t complain if it’s the type of place where the manager would take it out on the server.

If I was a server/manager, and I couldn’t change the price, and it was a nice restaurant that comps some things, as a gesture I’d send the guests home with a dessert, or a voucher for a dessert or coffee on the house another time.

Truth is, I would probably let it go. It’s not going to break me.


I recently paid $14 extra to have an $86 gift ,that would have been shipped for free if time wasn’t an issue , expedited. It was part of a gift exchange, where names were drawn on a Monday night, and gifts were to be delivered in time for the Canadian long weekend, 4 days later.

I followed up twice with the company to see if the gift had been sent, got a notice that it was sent, but the arrival date was May 26th, 11 days after date of purchase, when I paid for expedited service that was to have the gift delivered by May 20th. I followed up with Canada Post to see what the problem was, then found out it was shipped by standard mail, by the company.

Followed up with the company, which refunded the $14, but didn’t provide any sort of real apology, or any sort of perk towards a future purchase.

I probably won’t buy from them again.


If it no big deal at the restaurant why put it online?
Seems mean spirited.